Conference article

Comparing Cultures of Citizenship and Changing Concepts of Nation and Community in the EU and USA

Kylie Message
Research School of Humanities, The Australian National University, Australia

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Published in: Comparing: National Museums; Territories; Nation-Building and Change. NaMu IV; Linköping University; Norrköping; Sweden 18-20 February 2008

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 30:2, p. 21-40

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Published: 2008-05-20


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper examines whether museums and cultural institutions meet or challenge increasing calls by Western/European neoliberal governments (and some communities) to become sites of social action; innovation and entrepreneurship. I begin by exploring the relationship between multiculturalism; social cohesion and museums in Britain; which I then compare with an examination of Native rights and sovereignty in the contemporary post-colonial North American context. My overarching aim in bringing case studies from the EU (Britain) and USA together is to examine how and why the terms ‘culture’ and ‘citizenship’ have been centralized by projects of self-determination for Native Americans; and yet also employed as tools central to the promotion of national government interests in the US and EU countries. With an interest in drawing attention to the politics of culture and museums; and in light of ongoing challenges to traditional concepts of citizenship and the authority associated with ‘nation’; the purpose of this paper is to examine if museums contribute to changes in the way citizenship is understood and defined.


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